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Wed 11 Jan 2012 11:02 AM

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Muslim athletes face Ramadan hurdles at London Olympics

Clash between games, holy month may force Olympic hopefuls to break fast while competing

Muslim athletes face Ramadan hurdles at London Olympics
The Olympics Games will run from 27 July to 12 August in London
Muslim athletes face Ramadan hurdles at London Olympics
The Olympics Games will run from 27 July to 12 August in London

Muslim athletes are set to face an even tougher challenge during this year’s Olympic Games as
they gear up to compete in London during the holy month of Ramadan.  

The summer’s
event
will clash with the holiest month of the year in the Islamic calendar, when
Muslims are expected to fast from sunrise to sunset, a requirement that could
hamper the performance of athletes from the GCC.

Although
the line-up for this year’s UAE Olympic athletes has yet to be confirmed, Saeed
Abdul Ghaffar Hussain, the secretary general of the UAE's National Olympic
Committee, told Arabian Business some athletes may opt to postpone their fast
to maximise their chances.

“I don’t
think there will be any problem; our athletes are used to this,” he said. “If
you go according to religion, in certain cases it is allowed to break fast but
you have to cover that in the later stages. But it depends on the individual;
some players don’t like to break fast and continue fasting. I think it [comes
down] to the individual,” he added.

Ramadan
this year is expected to run from 20 July to 18 August while the Olympics will
run from 27 July to 12 August. An estimated 3,000 Muslim athletes are expected
to compete at this year’s games, leaving many divided about whether or not to
fast.

British
rower Mo Sbihi, the first Muslim to row for Britain, said in July he planned to
postpone his fasting during this year’s Ramadan because he didn’t want to hurt
his chances of winning a gold medal due to feeling hungry or dehydrated.

“It is a
massive risk to fast and compete. My power output could decrease, or I could
collapse during the race. This is the last Olympics for some people and I would
not want to risk their chances or my own. This is a once in a lifetime
opportunity for all of us, and I would not want to ruin it,” he told the UK’s
Standard newspaper.

Eight
UAE nationals, including Sheikh Saeed bin Maktoum Al-Maktoum, Obaid Ahmed
Aljesmi and Saeed Rashid Omar Alqubaisi, took part in the Beijing Olympics.

UAE
nationals competing could be exempt in certain circumstances, said Abdualraham
Amourarah from the UAE’s general authority of Islamic Affairs & Endowment.

“He will
continue his fasting and during his fasting if he feels tired and he cannot
continue to complete his fasting up to sunset, he has permission from Islam to
break his fast and eat. He will replace it after Ramadan,” he said.

UAE
swimmer Obaid Al Jasimi, who hopes to compete in this year’s 100m freestyle and
100m butterfly, said he will be consulting Islamic scholars before the games.

“It will
be my first time to compete in Ramadan so I thought I would [speak to] some
religious people about that before I do it and will see what they tell me,”
said Al Jasimi, who competed in the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

“I know
that what I will do is a mission for the country so I think they will say it is
okay I cannot fast in this period of the competition and I can do it after
Ramadan.”

Osama Thawadi 8 years ago

i really dont know what is the problem here.

the verse of the Quran lays out loud and clear. if you dont want to fast it your choice. al Bagarha vers 182. it clearly says for those who dont want to fast they have to feed one Maskeen a day for every day they choice not to fast.

we have so many situations of which fasting is difficult to excierise. sport is one of it.


i really dont see any issue here.

Isalam is such a felxible religion. we are not felxible in our thinking.
regards
Osama Thawadi

imran 8 years ago

read the ayaah that is before and after the one you are quoting, then say what is the problem.

hisham 8 years ago

i advise the islamic countries to go back to the olymbic authority and ask them to shift this event one month (before or after)to all muslims : let us respect our religion
if this event is belongs to another relgion please see what will happent .......they will shift the olumbic or may be going to cancell the event it self

Expat 123 8 years ago

Hisham, so you propose cancelling a GLOBAL event that has been helf for centuries because it doesnt fit into the schedule of Ramadan for muslim atheletes? With all due respect, that is a joke. I am a muslim and agree with Osama, its the peoples choice and its between them and God, either fast, or dont. Besides, the major majority of those participating in this event are NOT muslim. Religion has no place in the Olympics, this is a world event for everyone, not something to be tailored to a certain people/religion.

John 8 years ago

I don't see why you always make a big deal out of nothing when it comes to religion. Try to separate religion from your daily life. Besides, who forces you to fast or not to fast and why do you break it anytime you want and apply it anytime you want.

Saudi Engineer 8 years ago

John,
Considering you're a resident of the UAE, I would have thought you would have a better understanding (and respect) of Islam and even Arab culture. Obviously anyone who would think that would be wrong. Regardless of whether other religions are considered ways of life or not, Islam IS a way of life. It absolutely can NOT be separated from daily life - unless you're not practicing, in which some may argue would make you not a Muslim. The big deal is that Islam is our religion, hence our way of life.
And regarding your Q of "who forces you to fast?" theoretically no one. Just as someone who does not respect the law will run a red light, and will steal, and will kill people. But the God-fearing Muslim, as the law-abiding secularist, will respect the rules set forth and will follow them.

Saudi Engineer 8 years ago

Osama,
You've got everything all wrong, including the verse number. I believe you were referring to verse 184. And while your quote was not completely incorrect, the interpretation couldn't be further from the truth. The reference to feeding a "miskeen" or poor person is for the old or the sick, who can NOT fast for any medical reason - not out of choice, or because I just don't feel like it today.
Yes, Islam is a flexible religion, and stresses forgiveness and peace amongst other things, but let us not confuse flexibility with a disrespect for Islam and it's basic rules.